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Maritime transport of plutonium oxide from the United States to France

Press release

September 03, 2004

The Pacific Teal and the Pacific Pintail, two UK-registered ships dedicated to the transport of nuclear materials, are leaving Barrow (Great Britain) today for Charleston (United States).

Their journey is part of a program being implemented by the United States Department Of Energy (USDOE) for the disposition of former weapons plutonium, by using it in a nuclear reactor for generating electricity. The program starts with the manufacturing of 4 nuclear fuel assemblies in France.

In Charleston, the plutonium for these assemblies will be loaded on board, in casks specially designed for the safe and secure transport of plutonium oxide. The ships will then leave for France, where the plutonium will be fabricated into nuclear fuel at the COGEMA sites of Cadarache and Marcoule.

The shipment, as with all operations in this program, complies with national and international regulations. The shipping company involved has safely transported nuclear material over 4 million nautical miles without a single incident involving the release of radioactivity. The cargo will be protected by armed guards throughout its journey and the ships are equipped with naval guns.

   
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